A History of Cyprus

First a Short History of Cyprus


Shine a light on history in Cyprus      Cyprus history as far as we know - dig anywhere in Cyprus and you will find something.   Shine a light on history in Cyprus

  A Short History of Cyprus - The Copper Isle

The history of Cyprus is a long and complicated affair. If you are interested in such things then Cyprus is definitely the place for you.

There are a wealth of historic monuments to the past of all periods scattered about Cyprus. At the bottom of the page you will find a map showing the ancient and new correlation, so that you can find places you may be studying with ease when you actually get here.

The museums and exhibitions around Cyprus also contain many, many ancient treasures, many more are housed in the British Museum in London, but the majority of them are probably safely housed in their original location, under the ground.

Map of 1606 of the island of Cyprus in the eastern med.  click to enlarge a map from Amsterdam .     1606    

Museums and sites of archaeological interest are shown on the pages for the relevant towns. Paphos is particularly interesting for historical artefacts of and around the roman era. We have not omitted anything deliberately, so if you know of something interesting that you think should be included, please let us know here
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A very brief history of a very long time
Click on the hyperlinks for a slightly more in depth description

        In the beginning  (A description of how Cyprus was formed)

8,500 - 8,000 B.C   Hunter Gatherers . The earliest evidence (Neolithic).

Kalavassos Tenta The ancient settlement of Kalavassos 
 click to enlarge
The site itself is covered by a tent like structure, which is why it is called Kalavassos tenta. Very near to the main Limassol / Nicosia Highway from which it is visible.

The historical site of Khirokitia - Chirkitia. Choirokitia,  Chirokitia in Cyprus The ancient site of Chirkitia. Choirokitia, Khirokitia, Chirokitia - click to enlarge.
Also just off the main Limassol / Nicosia Highway, there is a garage and restaurant nearby.

7,000 - 5,300 BC The first settlers: The Chirokitians. 
The earliest Cypriot pottery, which you will find specimens of in almost all the museums and collections in Cyprus.
2200bc pottery from Cyprus.

4,000 - 2,500 BC Chalcolithic (Copper) Age
Use of metals and settlement of west Cyprus.

3000bc stone phalic cross statue from Cyprus.
click to enlarge   Note the same phallic cross symbol around the neck of the statue, on which there is the same phallic cross symbol around the neck of the statue, on which there is the same ad infinitum. There is a lovely replica of this statue made in gold as a jewellery item in Cyprus. Please contact us if you wish to purchase one. It is a delightful piece.

2,700-1,600 BC Cypriot Bronze Ages, Early and Middle:  Ox-plough, cattle, horses, and bronze making are introduced as well as a highly individual pottery style. 1st records of Alasia and its export of copper in near eastern historical records 1900B.C.
1900 bc pottery from Cyprus.
click to enlarge
Terracotta sanctuary model. about 1900 B.C.

1,600-1,050 BC The Late Bronze Age: A period of sophisticated literate city states such as Engomi, Alasia and Kition (Larnaca) . Large scale pottery export to the Levant and Egypt. Trade began in earnest.

1500 - 1450 BC: Development of Engomi as a major port. The Hittites rule in Cyprus.

1450 BC - 1000 BC: Late Bronze Age:  1220 Kition and Engomi was destroyed and then rebuilt, Beginning of the Egyptian domination of the island.

Lion ring 1450 bc made of gold from Cyprus. click to enlarge
Gold finger ring from Engomi 1450-1225 B.C.

1300 BC The Hittites, Eteo Cypriotes and Minoans each created open syllibaries. Well it is presumed they are open syllibaries (based on the number of signs they employed) because they still cannot be read. Here is an example (let us know when you figure out what it says please!)

Cypro Minoan script - 1300bc syllibaries from Cyprus

1200 BC - 1000: Establishment of the city states of Salamis (capital at the time), Soli, Marion, Paphos, Curium, and Kyrenia; arrival of Greek colonies.

 The Horned god 1200 BC from Cyprus   click to enlarge    
1200-1150 B.C. "The horned god"

850 - 750 B.C The Phoenician-led Renaissance  at Kition.
The Royal tombs at Salamis
750 bc 2ooo figures from Ayia Irini in cyprus 
click to enlarge
Some of 2000 terracotta figures from Ayia Irini  
750 to 500 B.C
( Cyprus Museum, Nicosia )

750 BC - 612 BC: Cypro-Archaic 1 Assyrian rule of Cyprus; Seven Cypriot Kings paid homage to Sargon II of Assyria (709 B.C)
Ten Cypriot Kings paid homage to Esarhaddon of Assyria (673 B.C.)
The golden age of Archaic Cyprus when the island was divided between a dozen city kingdoms, all independent.
700bc lynch pin of a chariot wheel from Salamis in Cyprus 
click to enlarge
This was originally the ornate decoration of a chariot found at Salamis. It was the lynch pin and was made in 700 B.C. What a beautiful piece. 

568 BC - 525 BC: Egyptian rule.
In c.545 B.C.
Cypriot Kings transferred allegiance to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia. Persian domination.

525 BC - 333 BC: Persian occupation and the rule of the island; also termed as the Cypro-Classical period and the duel between Kition and Salamis. Cyprus contributed 150 ships to the Persian fleet.
Then in 450 B.C. there was Cimons expedition to liberate Cyprus from Persia, but in 448 B.C. Cyprus is left firmly in the control of the Persians and Later Evagoras 1st became the king of Salamis, by 391 he was the master of all Cyprus.

468 BC - 294 BC  The Kyrenia Ship Aleppo pine ship sheathed with lead and fastened with copper nails. Carrying amphorae (jars) of Almonds and wine.

333 BC - 58 BC: End of Persian domination, death of Alexander the Great, ( click here to read his words) Hellenistic rule 1 & 11: the heirs of Alexander the Great rule the island. until 88 B.C. when Cyprus was returned to Egyptian rule

Head coin 150 bc. Silver coin minted at Kition (Larnaca) in Cyprus  click to enlarge
     Silver coin minted at Kition 180-145 B.C.

58 BC - 395 AD: Cyprus is reduced to the state of a Roman province and then in 47 B.C. Cyprus is returned to Egyptian rule by Julius Caesar until the suicide of Cleopatra in 30 B.C. when Cyprus became part of the Roman Empire : 350 years of quiet provincial prosperity.

150 bc coinbird tail - Silver coin minted at Kition (Larnaca) in Cyprus  click to enlarge
         Other side of the above coin

330 AD - 649 AD: The foundation of Stavrovouni Monastery,  within 10 years of each other Paphos and Salamis were ruined by Earthquake and tidal wave (332 & 342 A.D.) In 649 The death of the lady Umm-Haram, cousin of the Prophet at Tekke near Larnaca. The island becomes a part of the Byzantine Empire when Cyprus is gradually converted from paganism to Orthodox Christianity.

649 AD - 965 AD: A second Dark Age: The island is caught on the frontier between the two warring empires of Byzantium and Islam.

965 AD - 1191 AD: Return of the island to Byzantium.

1191 AD - 1192: Rule of the island by Richard the Lionheart, He sold it to the Templars for 100,000 dinars. He married Berengaria of Navarre in Limassol, where she was crowned queen of England.   The Templars then re-sold the island to King Richard who later transferred it at the same price to to Guy de Lusignan.

1192 AD - 1489 AD: Rule of the island by the Frankish Lusignan dynasty.

1489 - 1570: Venetian domination of the island.

1571 - 1861: Conquest of the island by the Ottoman Empire.

Camels in a yard in Cyprus click to enlarge

1878 - 1914: The administration of Cyprus passes to Britain. Which remains formally part of the Ottoman Empire In 1880 Greek and Turkish were established as the mediums for education in the schools (Each to his own)1914 Cyprus was annexed by Britain when the  Ottoman Empire enters into the World War I on the side of Germany; subsequently the island becomes a British Crown colony and under the British rule.

1924 - 1960: Under the treaty of Lausanne Turkey renounced claim to Cyprus in favour of Britain.

1959: Archbishop Makarios is elected president.

1960: Foundation of the Republic of Cyprus (by the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities).
The treaty of Establishment with its various appendixes is drawn up and signed

1963:President Makarios threatens changes to the constitution. Outbreak of inter communal fighting : Green line dividing communities in Nicosia were established. The Turkish side withdraws from the power sharing agreement.

1964: The United Nations peacekeeping force arrives. Enclaves are defended.

1974: Death of Grivas, leader of campaign for Enosis (Union with Greece) Conspiracy against President Makarios inspired by the Greek Junta , his overthrow, the declaration of Samson as President, invasion by Turkish troops, Glafkos Clerides is acting President until President Makarios returns (December 7th).   A very busy year.

1975: Rauf Denktash becomes president of breakaway Turkish side. Start of inter communal talks in Vienna.

1977: Archbishop Makarios died. Spyros Kyprianou elected as president.

1983: Talks between the two sides suspended by Denktash. He declares Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which is recognised by no one but Turkey.

1988: George Vassiliou elected as president and declares an end to bureaucratic lunacy. Promises people at least a reply to letters.

1993: Glafkos Clerides elected as president through proper channels this time.

1998: Talks continue and collapse over the years. Glafkos Clerides elected for second term. EU membership tentatively proposed. Missile crisis.

2001: Protests at Akrotiri British base over planned telecommunications mast.

2002: Kofi Annan peace plan presented to incorporate federation and a rotating presidency. A reunified Cyprus invited to join EU an proviso both agree to UN plan, otherwise only Greek side to join.

2003: Tassos Papadopoulos elected President. UN plan passes deadline. Borders opened for the first time in 30 years.

2004: Referendum on UN reunification plan accepted by Turkish side but rejection by Greek side means no EU entry for them.

2005: Helios Air crash kills all people on board.
Turkish side hold elections won by Mehmet Ali Talat.

2006: Despite closer ties and continuing talks, Turkey refuses to open its ports to Cyprus Republics traffic until EU ends the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community.

2007: Oil row, Turkey sends warships to Eastern med. Cypriots from both sides demolish barriers in the centre of Nicosia on the Green Line.

2008: Cyprus adopts the Euro. Goodbye Cyprus pound. Prices rise again.

To be continued..........

*2006 - 2008 Addendum: A lot has happened in the last few years. We held a referendum, the point of which was supposed to be ' Whether Cyprus wanted to be in the European Union.' The word on the street was that we do want the might of the United States of Europe to protect us from the Turks.  We joined. Prices rose rapidly (they still are,) so only the super rich have benefited so far. There does seem to be a growing awareness of social welfare for people and pets though, which means the ball is rolling.

However it is not fair of me to waft on here, I will take it to the meanderings page, just remind me, soon.

We just discovered how the big battalions don't seem to care about the little people. Point in question will be understood if you arrived here from the page url thunderworx.com/main/resourceredirect.asp?l=2916  leading you to the belief that you are in fact on a Thunderworx page. Not so, yet again, the power of .php and asp , which is as I write (5th November 2006) ,is serving up a page, which is copyrighted, to google consumers when they will not serve up the original!  History does tend to repeat itself doesn't it ? Update in 2008 - someone must have read this, now it resolves to our URL. Oh the power of the pen. Thank you

Miniature bronze head of Zeus Ammon.325-30 B.C. click to enlarge
Miniature bronze head of Zeus Ammon.325-30 B.C.

Aphrodite 1st century B.C. statue from Cyprus  click to enlarge
Aphrodite 1st century B.C.

The story of a Hellenistic mosaic discovery

This is a map of the accessible sites
 and their old and new names.
Map old names of archaeological sites in Cyprus.
Click to enlarge

And now on to our next page, which is for your input on anything to do with the history of Cyprus, we welcome contributions and pertinent links. You will find here a slightly more in depth history,

Please do fill in our survey, we have had some very interesting replies and shall publish the results when we think it has attracted enough of a variation to make it interesting and would really appreciate a moment of your time and a drop of your intellect.

You will find here.. Myths and Legends of Cyprus, starting with Aphrodite and Adonis.

This page is full of references to Cyprus by Classical writers such as Plutarch, Homer, Ovid and so forth. Zeno the Stoic of Kition can be found here, and the International Stoic Society is here.

Next is a more in depth history of Cyprus, from 'The beginning'

click here   The History of Cyprus

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